Promising over-the-top violence and tightly choreographed fight sequences, “John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum” is as stylish and adrenaline-pumping as the two previous installments in the series, but this time providing more substance and even storytelling that was missing before. Playing into the melodramatic tropes often associated with hired killer films, “John Wick” addresses them in a tongue-in-cheek manner, overall elevating the series. Though it has the most substantial storyline of the three, its constant use of increasingly stylized fights in a variety of settings can become tiring, giving the movie a quality similar to that of a Ferris wheel: right when it uncovers something potentially great, it goes downhill again.
Set immediately after the events of “John Wick: Chapter 2,” the legendary hitman (Keanu Reeves) is on the run, wanted dead by the shadowy underground organization The High Table after gunning down one of its members. Stripped of the High Table’s protective services, he finds himself with a $14 million bounty on his head and an assassin on every corner that wants to get a piece of it.
Fighting his way through the streets of New York City to try to get to safety, John slowly begins to question whether or not he will make it out alive this time.
Though there is significantly less blood in favor of a more fleshed-out storyline and expand the John Wick universe, the trade-off is nearly equal: in gaining a movie with a stronger storyline and more established characters, the artistry of the choreography and lack of self-importance that made the first “John Wick” exceed everyone’s expectations is lost. In a way, it seems almost predictable; the excess blood and torture many of the characters endure is, though uniquely filmed, often lacking in purpose or intrigue.
By far the strongest of the three films in the franchise, “John Wick Chapter Three” continues to maintain the dark mystique of the titular character within his even darker universe while simultaneously elaborating on who he is outside of his seemingly inhuman ability to kill everyone around him while cheating death himself. Building its world in small doses, the notion that every cook, homeless person or street merchant are also, secretly, assassins just begins to exhaust itself before giving way to the much more intriguing question of what that means for John as he tries to rid himself of the ever-growing target on his back. While certainly the best film in the John Wick franchise, “John Wick: Chapter Three: Parabellum” fails to prove itself as anything beyond decent.
Rose Dunton, originally of Nampa, has been living in Pocatello for the past four years. Proficient in Japanese, she is an avid film buff.